Biology Students Call for Departmental Review

The Petition.

By Alejandra Hernandez

Anonymous students in the biology department have begun a petition at York College seeking an in-depth review of the Biology department’s curriculum and a faculty evaluation.

The petition surfaced in late February in the form of flyers distributed in various locations on campus containing a QR code linking to a letter addressed to the president, provost and several other CUNY officials with a lengthy list of grievances.

Many of the students supporting the petition think the labs, techniques and material taught need to be updated and often, the tools they need are unavailable. 

“It becomes frustrating working in the laboratory with instruments that are not correctly working or with certain materials missing from each experiment assigned,” said a transfer student. “Calculations are always off due to the Spark devices not being calibrated, not having enough material in the labs for students to work with, or certain professors not giving adequate detail on how to do each experiment.” 

Students also cited a lack of support from some of the professors in the department. Professors told numerous students to “find another professor” and “leave if you do not like it” because of the teaching style and conditions of the classes, according to a transfer student from Queensborough Community College.

“I am aware that some instructors in our department are more rigorous than the others,” Department Chair, Professor Ivica Arsov, wrote in an email to Pandora’s Box. Arsov, while not being accused said he was not one of the professors who told students to “get a better professor” but believes “that if a student works hard he/she should be able to do well with any instructor.”

The same student noted that when students expressed their concerns to Professor Arsov, they were told, “it’s a CUNY issue” or “many colleges around the nation are facing the same issues.”

“I stick with what I said about a worse academic performance across CUNY and across the nation post-pandemic,” Professor Arsov wrote in the same email.

A primary concern of this petition is the need for internships and clinical placement opportunities for those who want to pursue graduate studies. Students have acknowledged that these opportunities were affected by COVID-19 and are asking for the college to partner with local organizations and businesses to get hands-on training.

The students are also requesting a team of professors from biology departments including other CUNY colleges to review York’s. This team would ensure impartiality while providing feedback for improvement.

“York College wants to be recognized for its academic achievements, but it is hard to give credit when it just seems they only want money and don’t do anything to help the students,” said one student. “It’s always ‘go see a tutor’ or ‘learn on your own.’”

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